Category Archives: Fishermen
By N Anand
A documentary portraying the travails of a Thailand fisherman, who has been living in the Kochi Police Harbour Station for the last 17 months without valid papers, will be screened at Alliance Francaise on May 5.
The 15-minute documentary, titled ‘Man without a Nation’, has been produced jointly by Sailors’ helpline co-ordinator V. Manoj Joy and International Transport Workers Federation Inspector K. Sreekumar.
Aung Soe, the fisherman from Thailand, is the hero of the movie and narrates his woes in his own voice. Apinya Tajit, a seafarers’ welfare worker from Bangkok, has done some translation work. The film has been directed by Prasanth Kanathur.
Trouble started for the Myanmar-born Soe, when the fishing vessel Prantalay 12, in which he was travelling to Dijbouti, was captured by Somali pirates on April 18, 2010 along with 76 other fishermen. For several months, Prantalay 12 was used as a mother ship to capture other vessels passing through the Indian waters.
When the INS Krishna was patrolling Indian waters, Mr. Soe jumped into the sea and sought help. Mr. Soe knew only Thai language and a few words in English. The Indian Navy was unable to establish his nationality/identity and handed him over to the Kochi Harbour police.
Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Joy said: “Thailand authorities are not willing to take him back as he does not hail from that country. Myanmar also disowned him for want of identity. Mr. Soe should be lucky to be in India as the Kerala Police is taking very good care of him and treating him like their younger brother.
“We want some solution to emerge. The refugee commissioner for the UN, the International Labour Organisation, the International Maritime Organisation and other international organisations and migrant workers forums should seriously devise policies to end this untold human misery of sailors.”
Mr. Soe does not talk much and hasn’t learnt Malayalam. His only wish is to get back to Thailand to see his friends who might lend him a helping hand to start life afresh.
CHENNAI: Fishermen families hailing from Koraikuppam fishing hamlet near Pulicat Lake on Friday served a one-month ultimatum to the government authorities to finalise their rehabilitation plans.
Addressing the demonstration organised by South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association (SIFWA) near Chennai Collectorate, Raji Chettiyar, the fishing hamlet’s head said, “In 2004, we suffered and lost six lives to the natural disaster tsunami. For the past seven years, we have been suffering without proper rehabilitation, thanks to government apathy.”
“We have waited for the past several years but nothing has been done to rehabilitate us. Hence, we have issued a one-month deadline to the government to end our sufferings,” Raji said. “If the government fails to show any kind of interest in settling our perennial problem of housing near the sea, fishermen families will be forced to adopt new strategies to pressurise the authorities,” Raji warned.
Members of 130 fishermen families from the fishing hamlet, including dozens of school-going students from the coastal village, participated in the demonstration seeking proper rehabilitation from the authorities.
Talking to City Express, K Bharathi, president of SIFWA, said, “Since the issue of rehabilitation was seen as a paramount problem for them for the last seven years, there was a tremendous response from the villagers for the token demonstration.”
Bharathi added, “The families are not asking anything big from the state government. They just want proper rehabilitation without disturbing their traditional rights of living near the sea.”
Meanwhile, SIFWA has decided to send reminder letters to the CM J Jayalalithaa, Tiruvallur District Collector and Tsunami rehabilitation officials in the coming days.
Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai on Jan 30, 2012:
CHENNAI: More than 130 families of fishermen, living in Tsunami-battered houses in Koraikuppam, a coastal hamlet near Pulicat in Ponneri Taluk limits, have appealed to Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa to construct new houses for them on nearby high ground.
Though an non-government organisation had constructed about 100 houses for these families post-tsunami, they remain unoccupied for over four years, as they are located far away from the shoreline and are hence unsuitable for carrying out their traditional fishing activities.
“When the authorities were finalising an area amidst agricultural lands for the new houses, we objected to the location as fishermen cannot live in interior land as it is natural for us to live by the sea,” Raji Chettiyar, village head of the fishing hamlet, told Express.
However, the officials, gave scant regard to our livelihood options, completed the housing project in a hurry, Raji added.
As the previous Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government failed to hear the grievances of the fishermen despite numerous pleas, the villages has written to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa hoping for her intervention.
Speaking to Express, K Bharathi, president of South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association (SIFWA) who wrote the letter to the Chief Minister on behalf of the affected, said: “The fishermen families, who are feeling cheated with the attitude of the previous DMK government despite representing the issue time and again, hopes for a kind-hearted intervention from Chief Minister Amma.”
The tsunami-affected have suggested a new location to the State government, a higher ground (vacant land belonging to the Revenue Department) along the shore in Koraikuppam fishing hamlet.
Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai on Jan 5, 2012:
CHENNAI: City-based social activist ‘Injambakkam’ H Sekar, who has waged a legal battle against influential politicians and land sharks for usurping the beach front in Injambakkam, is having sleepless nights over anonymous threatening calls.
With the callers threatening to “bump him off” for pursuing the beach encroachment case in the Madras High Court, Sekar, for the past few months, preferred to stay away from his native fishing hamlet during nights, fearing his safety.
With the case against the beachfront encroachments progressing in the High Court, Sekar began receiving threat calls on his mobile phone since August last, to withdraw the case immediately .
Besides calls over phone, unknown persons also began frequenting Sekar’s residence at Injambakkam to ‘advise’ him to remain silent in the case.
As the ‘threat’ from these quarters kept increasing, Sekar, in September last, sent telegrams to the Chief Justice of Madras High Court and top police officials seeking security.
When contacted, Neelangarai Inspector Devaraj admitted that Sekar had informed them about the threatening calls.
“Based on Sekar’s information, we conducted enquiries with the suspected persons who could have threatened him. We are providing him adequate security,” he added.
Sekar’s woes began after he secured successive court judgements for the removal of encroachments by the influential persons in Injambakkam. However, despite Madras High Court orders in 1997 and 2007, no action was taken by the Kanchipuram district administration following which Sekar filed a petition in 2008 and sought a fresh order.
Acting on Sekar’s plea, the High Court in November 2008 passed an interim order asking the Kanchipuram District Collector to file a detailed report after removing the encroachment from beachfront.
“Despite the order, no action had been taken by the district administration to remove encroachments,” Sekar told Express.
After Express published a report about the authorities’ inaction in June 2009, local officials visited the area. But again nothing happened, Sekar added.
Meanwhile, the Neelangarai police in October filed a case against Sekar for ‘immoral activities’ at Injambakkam fishing hamlet after a group of women registered a complaint.
When Sekar sought details of the complaint, the police declined to provide any details forcing him to obtain the copy of the complaint using the RTI Act. “I see the complaint as a ploy by influential people (against whom I waged the legal battle) to get me arrested in a false case,” Sekar said.
Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai on Dec 29, 2011:
CHENNAI: With the severe cyclonic storm Thane’s landfall along the city’s northern coastline certain, the situation at the 14 odd fishing hamlets along the Chennai and Tiruvallur districts has changed dramatically since Wednesday evening.
Male members of the fishing community have been asked to stay in group in every hamlet to meet any emergency due to gusty winds and torrential rain brought by cyclone Thane.
Speaking to Express from Thalankuppam, one of the vulnerable fishing hamlets near Ennore creek, Mahesh, a local fishermen said that the situation has changed dramatically inside his hamlet since evening as all reports from weathermen predict a certain landfall of the severe cyclonic storm near the city.
“Local officials and village administrative officers (VAOs) are in constant touch with the village heads from the fishing hamlets and male members of the community are asked to stay alert till the threat reduces,” Mahesh added.
Fishermen also revealed that a cyclone as severe as Thane, during the Tamil month of Margazhi is a very rare phenomenon.
“There was a cyclone landfall in the mid-1990s which brought heavy rainfall to Chennai and adjacent areas. We heard from our ancestors that a cyclone during Margazhi is always a dangerous one,” Desingh, a young fisherman from Kasimedu said.
Most fishermen are now glued to their radio and television sets for periodic weather updates.
Meanwhile, a huge wave at the Marina Beach created a scare on Wednesday as the water reached the service lane of Kamaraj Salai. Though it receded, a big pool of water remained on the beach. The Met office described it a swell wave. About a metre high swell wave could inundate parts of Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kanchipuram and Villupuram districts.
By G Saravanan
Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai on Dec 29, 2011:
CHENNAI: Owners of more than 100 mechanised fishing trawlers that sailed from the Kasimedu Fishing Harbour five days ago and now stranded near the Nizampatnam Bay in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, have appealed to the State government and the Indian Coast Guard (Eastern Region) to rescue their boats and 700-odd men onboard, before the arrival of Cyclone Thane.
Speaking to Express, S Venugopal, president of Tamil Nadu Coastal Mechanised Boat Fishermen Welfare Association, said, “We have received reports that about 100 mechanised boats from Kasimedu are now stranded near Nizampatnam Bay area due to rough sea conditions and we appeal to the Coast Guard to act swiftly to move them to a safer locations before cyclonic storm Thane reaches the area.”
When the meteorological department alerted fishermen about the storm a few days ago, various boat owner associations radioed the weather warning message to all trawlers that left for fishing about five days ago.
“Though half of the trawlers moved towards safer areas near Krishnapatnam Port and nearby areas, we did not receive any communication from about 100 boats and we suspect that they might be stranded near Nizampatnam Bay due to the prevailing rough sea conditions,” M E Raghupathy, president of Chennai-Tiruvallur-Kanchipuram District Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association told Express.
According to boat owners, about 700 fishermen are stranded in these 100-odd mechanised trawlers.
Meanwhile, fishing activities from Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kanchipuram have come to a standstill after weathermen cautioned fishermen from venturing into sea.
K Bharathi, president of the South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association (SIFWA), told Express that about 10,000 fibre boats from these three districts were moved to safer locations in all fishing hamlets. “Fishermen even in catamarans did not venture into sea for the last two days due to rough sea conditions,” Bharathi added.
By G Saravanan
Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai on Dec 27, 2011:
CHENNAI: On the seventh anniversary of one of the most tragic natural disasters in recent Indian history (December 26, 2004 Tsunami), a fishermens’ association on Monday appealed to Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa to construct a ‘Tsunami Memorial Pillar’ in the city to create awareness about the day to future generations.
Speaking to Express at Pazhaverkadu, after paying homage to those swept away in the massive tidal waves that struck the Chennai coast eight years ago, K Bharathi, president of the South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association (SIFWA), said, “We appeal to Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa to construct Tsunami Memorial Pillars in select places in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts to create awareness to the future generations about the importance of the day.”
It may be noted that the coastal districts (except Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur) of the State and which had witnessed the Tsunami disaster and loss of lives, already have such memorial pillars, either constructed by the district administrations or by the local people themselves.
Though the three districts had also suffered loss of lives during the 2004 Tsunami, no such memorial pillars were erected yet and people were making their own arrangements on the anniversary for paying tributes to the departed souls at seashore.
“We hope that the Chief Minister would understand our appeal for having a Tsunami Memorial Pillars in these districts as presence of such structure would create more awareness about the day with the future generations”, Bharathi said.
The association also wrote letters to the CM and three district collectors for constructing the memorial.